Friday, May 25, 2007

Tour de Farce

OK. I'm not much of a bicycle racing fan. But, I will admit that I do watch at least part of the Tour de France every year. I don't know why I find it mildly interesting. Perhaps its the beautiful scenery, but it probably has more to do with the fact that I know most of the French people watching the race hate to see Americans do well on French soil. It makes me smile to see the French suffer. Yeah, I don't think too much of the French. The French people would all be speaking German today if it wasn't for the good old United States of America. It amazes me how quickly these ungrateful people forget the blood and sacrifice that our American soldiers have given on French soil. I think its OK for the French people to disagree with U.S. foreign policy, but I think they need to show a little more respect in how they voice their opinions.

Anyway, I am laughing my ass off today after hearing all of these riders from past Tour de France competitions now coming out and admitting that they took performance enhancing drugs during past races. Today, I found out that 1996 Tour Champion Bjarne Riis has admitted that he took EPO during the 1996 Tour de France, which he won. The funnier part of this situation is that apparently the 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th place finishers that year have already admitted to taking EPO. None of these riders tested positive for anything during the race. So, if the Tour decides to take away Riis' title, who are they going to declare the new winner? I think the only fair way to crown a new champion for 1996 would be to invite all of the 1996 participants back to France this summer and then have them rerun the race. I know it sounds stupid, but I bet it would generate some enormous fan interest.

I think this whole mess is quite humorous. If the Tour officials don't take Riis' championship away from him, then what does that say about their unrelenting threats and attacks on Floyd Landis? I'm not saying that I think Floyd is innocent, I'm just saying that what's good for one is good for the other. If they want to take Floyd's championship away from him, they better be prepared to take away Riis' and anyone else's who admits to having cheated. That only seems fair. Unfortunately, the French people don't seem to be too concerned about what is fair. If they were concerned about fairness, they would leave Lance Armstrong alone. I'm not saying that Lance is innocent, either. But, if he was cheating during his Tour victories then he was doing a damn good job. Let's face it, the French put everything they had into trying to discredit Lance and they couldn't do it. Yet, they still consider him a cheater. That's not fair.

The greater issue with all of this is the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports. I'm laughing about this situation with the Tour de France, but I don't think the issue of performance enhancing drugs is funny. Those of you who know me personally know how I feel about steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. I will admit that I dabbled with recreational drugs when I was in high school and college but I never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind. And let me state for the record that steroids were made available to me when I was playing college football way back in the late 80's. I don't have any exact figures but I would be willing to bet that at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the guys on my college team had experimented with steroids at least once. Steroids were not hidden in that locker room. The coaching staff will never admit it, but they knew what was going on. I once saw a friend of mine put on 20 pounds in one month by taking only one cycle of anabolic steroids. You can't tell me that the trainers and/or coaches didn't notice that. Hell, we had to weigh in every day.

I'm not trying to sound "high and mighty" here. The truth is that I made the decision not to take steroids because I was scared of the possible side effects. I didn't want to have my hair fall out or have my testicles shrink. It just wasn't worth it to me. Looking back, I still think I made the right decision. I never made it to the NFL, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it even if I had taken steroids. And you know what, I'm a pretty happy guy today anyway. I have a beautiful wife, two beautiful children, a full head of hair, and two big hairy testicles. If only somebody had told me 25 years ago that smoking pot would make my testicles shrink I probably wouldn't have done that either. Oh well.

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